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Tiziano Vecellio, better known as "Titian"--Was This Renaissance Artist a Follower of the Goddess?

Updated on October 24, 2011
Titian: la Presentation du Vierge au Temple
Titian: la Presentation du Vierge au Temple

Tiziano Vecellio, better known as Titian, was an Italian artist of the Renaissance. He was born in Venice in 1488, the child of fairly well-to-do parents (his father superintended a castle and also managed local mines for their owners), who apprenticed him at an early age to the painter Bellini.

Wikipedia has a lot of interesting and important information about Titian's life, times, work, and artistic significance as a painter, which I do not want to re-hash here. I will add the link, so that if you' re interested, you can go straight to the source.

What fascinates me more is that many, many works of Titian contain some hidden messages. In the above painting, "The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple", if you zoom in on the left door lower panel, you will find the word "eve" overpainted.

Titian was a child of his times, a child of the Renaissance. The Rensaissance artists engineered a revival of ancient Greek myths, and pagan culture, as evidenced by the subjects of their paintings. This was called "Alexandrianism of the Renaissance", and was an outstanding feature of that era of art. Art became essentially less religious, less Christian in tone and subject, and more secular. Secular subjects, provided they were classical subjects, had become acceptable. It had to do in part with patronage: previously, and by FAR, the largest art patron was the Catholic Church. Now, politicos such as Doges in Venice and royalty elsewhere were now very predominantly patrons of the arts. In some ways, royalty were rivals of the Church for power over the people.

Titian, in his wonderful treatment of women subjects, and his prolific use of women as powerful subjects in his paintings is another indication (to me, at least) that Titian himself might just have succumbed to the power of the goddess cult, which was an underground pagan survival.

Aside from his commissioned work, Titian made an ongoing series of paintings of the Madonna, over a period of many years. She was always exquisitely beautiful and situated in pastoral, or bucolic settings, which makes me think she might not have been the representation of Mary, mother of God, in Titian's mind, but instead...the Goddess.

Original Sin
Original Sin
Bacchus and Ariadne
Bacchus and Ariadne

In the painting "Original Sin", the tempter holding the apple isn't a demon, a devil or a snake, but a baby or a cherub. Also in "Original Sin", you may notice that EVE is the predominate character. She is slighter larger than Adam; she is in an elevated position in relation to Adam; and she is also to the right side of the painting, not the left.

There are several intriguing things about the painting "Bacchus and Ariadne". For one thing, zoom in on the circle or diadem of stars in the upper left part of the sky. That has significance in mythology:

From Wiki:

In Greek mythology, Eos ( /ˈ.ɒs/ or /ˈ.ɑːs/; Greek: Ἠώς, or Ἕως "dawn", pronounced [ɛːɔ̌ːs] or [éɔːs]) is the Titan goddess[1][Full citation needed] of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the Sun.

The dawn goddess, Eos with "rosy fingers" opened the gates of heaven[2] so that Helios, her brother, could ride his chariot across the sky every day. In Homer,[3] her saffron-colored robe is embroidered or woven with flowers;[4] rosy-fingered and with golden arms, she is pictured on Attic vases as a supernaturally beautiful woman, crowned with a tiara or diadem and with the large white-feathered wings of a bird.

This "diadem of stars" is a repeating motif in classical mythology. Eos is only one of the many references, and in each reference, if we follow them all the way back to their roots, we will find at the very heart of it, an ancient Goddess cult of the early Druids.

Bacchus supposedly crowned Ariadne with a diadem of stars, but, if you notice--in THIS painting, the diadem of stars is not in Bacchus's hand, or above Ariadne's head, but positioned in the sky. There is also, if you zoom in on that part of the picture, a very faint indication of an overpaint in that area. Also, once again, the focal point of the painting is Ariadne, not Bacchus. She is the central figure, in a more elevated position, and scaled just a tiny bit larger than Bacchus. Her torso and upper arms have an androgynous masculinity about them: they could be either male or female arms.

That brings us to "Flora" one of Titian's arguably most famous women.

This is also a VERY intriguing subject, in addition to being one of the most beautiful women ever painted.

What is she holding in her left hand? Her expression is just as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa's.

Diana and Actaeon
Diana and Actaeon
Diana and Callisto
Diana and Callisto

The above two paintings: "Diana and Actaeon" and "Diana and Callisto" have recently been released from their private owner. "Diana and Actaeon" has been sold to London's National Gallery jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland, for 50 million pounds (70 million dollars).

These two are representative of Titian's "Diana" paintings. Notice in "Diana and Callisto", Diana is wearing a crown. Diana, the huntress, is most certainly a survival from the ancient pagan Goddess cult. Her whole powerful image in the Greek pantheon makes her one of the most likely candidates as the representative survival of the Goddess in Greek mythology. Diana was a favorite subject of Titian's.

That is where I rest my (purely speculative) case. Was Tiziano Vecellio, better known as Titian, a worshiper of the Goddess?


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    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow...this was so beautiful. I love art and painting is always beautiful. I give my big appreciation to this hub and all stunning pictures here. I really enjoy and entertained. Well done, my friend. Vote it up!


    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Flora!!! Your name is FLORA! Thanks for the visit and the comment, which is entirely true. I still think, and truthfully mostly because of the door in "The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple", which really seems to me to be a hidden, secret code, and nothing to do with Titian's patrons, that Titian was a worshiper of the Goddess. It's only my personal opinion, based on what I laid out here.

      Hiya Phil, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Titian made many paintings of religious subjects, as well, that did not include a goddess, but often had subtle hints of a non-religious nature. He did most of his religious painting as commissioned work; he completed "The Assumption of the Virgin" for the altar of the church of the Frari in the early 1500's, and it's a marvelous picture that some feel deifies Mary, mother of God. So even in his religious works, women were prominently powerful and glorious subjects.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I would say you've made an excellent case. To be able to argue the opposing case, one would have to show other works of art by Tiziano that do not include a goddess.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      I love Titian's paintings. It's rather difficult to tell if he was a worshiper of the Goddess, because until the Reformation, you had to paint religious icons. Meanwhile, people who lived across these two eras didn't necessarily abandon their original subjects because they often painted for a patron. Wahtever interested the patron was what the artist painted. Think Vermeer, for example. Perhaps then, this is a reference more to his patrons? Voted up, useful, interesting, and beautiful.


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